The latest PPS Student Confidence Index (SCI), conducted among over 1500 South African students, has revealed that 54% of the respondents plan to move abroad for work purposes in the next five years following their graduation.
of South Africa’s future professionals are planning to work overseas, these students should be encouraged to return back to the country once they have acquired international expertise and plough their knowledge back into the local economy.
The 2016 PPS SCI was conducted among students in their fourth year or above, studying at a university or university of technology towards a profession-specific degree, such as engineering, medicine, law or accounting. Students answered questionnaires online, face-to-face on campus and via focus groups.
A possible reason why students are inclined to move abroad following their graduation could be the current economic environment and the gloomy outlook for employment in South Africa, she says. “The latest figures from the Stats SA Labour Force Survey indicate that an estimated 26,7% of South Africa’s population are unemployed. These figures could motivate students to seek employment opportunities abroad.”
The PPS SCI also revealed that 69% of the respondents stated that they keep updated about economic and political issues that affect the country. Nomvethe says these results show that students are reading the news and accessing information via social media so they are aware of what is going on in the country, which might cause students to consider whether they will be better off finding work in a foreign country.
The Expat Insider’s InterNations Survey conducted in 2015 also revealed that the top three reasons why South Africans consider to move abroad are personal safety, the cost of living and the economic or labour market.
Nomvethe states that while it isn’t possible to force young graduates to remain in the country against their will, more should be done to inspire these young professionals to return to the country after an international employment period to reinvest their international experience into South Africa. “When an individual has experience with international operations and dealing with different cultures, they can be extremely valuable to an organisation with a global presence.”
Young professionals with international work experience in their chosen field will be increasingly sought after and will be less likely to face a lengthy jobless stage when they return from working abroad, she adds.
Nomvethe advises that there is also a definite need for more to be done in the country to promote and foster entrepreneurial skills to empower graduates within professional occupations to open a private practice, consultation or business should they not be able to find permanent employment upon graduation.
“While graduates are very keen to work abroad, these young professionals will need to adjust their expectations of living in a foreign country as they might also struggle to find a job in their chosen field in the first few months following their arrival. Moving to a different country in search of work might seem like a very exciting move but it is vital for these individuals to remain realistic about the circumstances surrounding an international move. Thorough research and planning is required to better their chances of securing employment overseas,” concludes Nomvethe.